The in basket: A short while ago, I asked why drive-through
windows at restaurants and banks remain so popular even though the
gas being burned while waiting was up to $4.40 a gallon (It’s come
down since, happily).
As before when I asked about the attraction of drive-throughs,
the responses were varied and lively.
The out basket: Henry Howe, S.J. Duke and a blogger who goes by
Cean said they don’t have to worry about idling in those lines any
more. They drive Priuses.
“Whenever my speed slows down or stops, the battery system
kicks in and gas consumption stops,” said Henry. “Since my
Prius gets 45-50 MPG, I don’t worry about gasoline consumption.
“No worries!” said S.J., saying he’s been a proud owner since
2003. “Another good reason to own a hybrid.
“Even if I didn’t have a Prius,” said Cean, “I would continue to
use drive-ups sometimes, as I often have a passenger with me who is
handicapped. It can take a lot longer for both of us to go into a
That also was part of the rationale from Melissa Barnum of Port
Orchard. She also said she’s a foster parent with children of her
own, who often have friends with them. “Typically six to eight
people are in my Suburban which seats eight,” she said. “The
occasional dollar or two that I might save (by walking into the
business) is not worth the extra 15-20 minutes it takes getting
everyone in and out of car seats and then back in again.”
That many boisterous youngsters will disrupt a coffee shop (not
much room), a bank (where quiet is valued) or a pharmacy (where
sick people can be vulnerable to cold germs), she added.
And it isn’t a dollar or two anyway, by Bruce Bargmeyer’s
“A quick check of the internet gives a ballpark figure of about
0.5 gallons per hour of fuel consumption at idle,” he said. “Using
this number, idling costs 3 cents per minute when gas is $3.60 per
gallon, and 4 cents per minute when gas is $4.80 per gallon. Idling
a car for five minutes costs the driver between 15 and 20
He also says it cost extra gas to restart one’s car, the
equivalent of two minutes of driving, by his Internet search.
My own search says an hour of idling can use a gallon of gas,
twice what Bruce contends. And restarting of a car consumes about
10 seconds worth of idling in modern cars that are warmed up, says
the site I visited. But Bruce’s point is made: “Are these budget
busting numbers?” he asked. “Apparently not.”
T.J. in Port Orchard says the Starbucks on Lund Avenue in South
Kitsap, which I cited as an example of a long line at the
drive-through, has an added incentive to not park one’s car. “It is
difficult to back out of a parking place in that small lot at most
times, but when there’s a line for the drive-through, it’s nearly
impossible,” he said.
Ann Martin of Silverdale took a dim view of the practice. “We
idle away gas at drive-up windows for the same reason that we use
plastic bags at the grocery store, the same reason we drive around
in gas-guzzling uber-cars, because we are a fat, lazy, narcissistic
nation that deserves exactly what we get. It’s the American
“How’s that for a lively discussion?” she concluded.
Don’t forget pollution from idling engines, said Merwin Lindley
of Central Kitsap. It’s not just wasted gas.
It all reminded Merwin of the time in the 1970s when gas wasn’t
just costly, it was scarce and had to be rationed. He said then it
was crucial not to idle in the long lines at service stations
because you might run out. So he often pushed his car in those
lines when on a flat surface.
“I told my wife we should do that and she didn’t agree with me,”